The Home Ministry Thursday advised the Chandigarh administration to exempt Sikh women from wearing helmets while driving two-wheelers. The administration had sought advice in the matter after Sikh bodies sought that all women, non-turbaned as well, be exempt from wearing helmets. The directions came despite the Punjab and Haryana High Court asking the state government to clarify how it exempted all Sikh women from the rule.
Earlier this year in July, the Chandigarh administration amended Rule 193 of the Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1990, and made it compulsory for all women to wear protective headgear. However, on religious grounds, it exempted Sikh women who wore a turban — Sikhs had argued that the helmet represents a cap which symbolises slavery.
The notification had read, “…the Administrator, Union Territory, Chandigarh, is pleased to amend Rule 193 of Chandigarh Motor Vehicle Rules, 1990, as follows; in the said rule, the words ‘or a woman’ are hereby substituted by the words, ‘a Sikh person (including woman) wearing a turban’, with immediate effect.”
According to the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988, every person driving or riding shall, while in a public place, wear protective gear, which means a helmet, conforming to the standards of Bureau of Indian Standards. The Law, however, exempts Sikhs, if he/she is wearing a turban while riding.
The law also states that state gove...